“Aha!” thought Marzyciel to himself. He saw a little girl sitting on her father’s lap, her brown eyes filled with laughter as he read to her. This was a nice, clear, strong one. Worth a fortune, oh yes. But it would be worth so much more if it were complete, for then it would skip the Dream Weavers entirely. He took his jar, unscrewed the lid, put down his satchel, and settled comfortably beneath the open window, under the twinkling sky.
Marzyciel’s was not an enviable job, but he had never felt pangs of regret for his victims. Indeed, often there wasn’t any reason to. Many were relieved to be rid of their haunting nightmares. They would wake up shivering and shaking, but before they knew it, the shivers would ebb and the dream would blur before disappearing altogether. They never saw it again.
He heard a rasping snore from the window above him. Holding the jar ready, Marzy reached out his nimble fingers toward the window, and fumbled. He couldn’t risk the man waking up, and losing the dream. This one would be enough to get him through the winter. Incomplete or not, he had to get it, and now. Groping urgently, he managed to close his thumb and forefinger on a loose end, and pulled gently. He had it. He let out a sigh of relief. Even if the man awoke now, he would merely feel the details of the dream siphoning away, fading faster the more he tried to hold onto them. But Marzy wasn’t too worried, for the man seemed deeply asleep.
Suddenly, without warning, there was a tug and the dream all but slipped from his fingers. Alert and anxious now, Marzy clutched and pulled resolutely, bringing the jar ever closer. The man’s mind fluttered open, and cried “Please, please spare me! Don’t take my dream… this dream from me, please, I beg you!”
Marzy paused, but didn’t let go. This was new. He had no inclination of giving up, for this was business. His source of income, his livelihood. He couldn’t return home empty handed and let his family starve. But the man sounded so sad, so sincerely sad. So he listened. The man’s mind was pleading desperately.
“My Hazel. Please, she’s gone, gone a week tomorrow. Her dreams are all I… I have left now, please, don’t take them… her… from me.” Over and over it cried.
Marzy hesitated. He didn’t want to be the reason for the man’s sorrow. Then again, taking away the dream might actually help him move on. And fetch Marzy a windfall. He began pulling again, his face set. The man was distracted, tainting the dream as he tried his best to hold on and think of another way. Finally, he offered Marzy another dream in exchange.
Intrigued, Marzy waited. This time, he saw another girl, sitting in a corner, looking at the girl on the man’s lap. She had the same brown eyes, though filled with longing instead of laughter. Longing, but no bitterness. The dream seemed to shudder and shake, but finally ended. The man waited expectantly and anxiously for the jerk of Marzy’s pull.
Sickened, Marzy shook his head. Regret. For the first time, he hated his job, hated what he was going to do. The sorrow he’d cause, the void. All of it. “This is the dream you should be keeping, don’t you see? This will take you forward. The other one is useless!” He felt the prick of his words as soon as he uttered them, and the man broke down.
“I cant, it’s hard enough to choose. Please don’t make me do this. Please. I have her with me, I have my Amber. But Hazel, she’s only in my dreams. Please, there’s no other way I can think of. Take it and go!”
Marzy made his decision. The man sat, worn out, while he screwed the lid back on the jar. Jumping off the window sill, he shouldered his satchel.
He could still hear the man sobbing, but he felt light. The night was still young, and there would be plenty to choose from. He left him there, with his dreams, and shook his head morosely. He couldn’t afford to get attached like this, or getting money would be tiresome indeed.
Marzyciel made his slow way down the silver ribbon stream toward the cluster of houses nestled under the firs, a fading figure with a satchel on his back and a jar that occasionally caught the moonlight.
Kriti Lilian Bajaj has just graduated with a degree in English Literature, and is currently taking some time off to figure out what she wants to do. She loves reading, traveling, chocolate, JK Rowling, sarcasm, photography, presents, Roger Federer and (pleasant) surprises. Oh, and writing.